Eastern Arc Medical Humanities Network

Looking at human health through the lens of the humanities allows us to better understand the whole person, their physical health and mental wellbeing, but also how they engage with the environment and how local cultures, national legislation and specific treatments affect them.

It also allows us to take the long view, and understand how modern medicine has developed and changed over time. It gives us the opportunity to explore the philosophical underpinnings of health in different cultures, the ethics of treatment, and how culture and creativity has responded to it.

It’s a discipline that requires an interdisciplinary approach. As such, Eastern Arc is a natural home for it, where cross-disciplinary collaboration is encouraged and risk-taking is part of our foundational principles. The medical humanities have been a strong part of our activity from the start, and we continue to act as a platform to facilitate conversations and shared events across our universities.

This network will act as a platform and a forum for the sharing of knowledge, training, ideas and research. It will include events funded by us, as well as details of events hosted elsewhere but open to our members.

To find out more about our work, click on the links to the right, or explore the events below. Alternatively, go to our community of common interest to find out about who is working in which area across our consortium.

Articulation / Experience / Embodiment

In 2022/23 Eastern Arc is funding a special series of events looking at articulation, experience and embodiment.

Our experiences of the world are always embodied. We cannot help but speak from bodies; our bodies speak to us, in ways we may not consciously understand; and they also often speak for us in uncontrollable ways. As we articulate our embodied experiences, we bump against the understandings, experiences, and articulations of other-bodied people. The entanglements of articulation, experience, and embodiment mark every attempt to understand ourselves and every interaction with others. 

Articulation / Experience / Embodiment probes these entanglements at the heart of the critical medical humanities. Through workshops, provocations, and dialogue, the network will examine crucial questions around the relationship between experience and representation; different forms, means and contexts of articulating knowledge and health and illness; and the methods for narrativizing embodied experience that open out techniques and spaces for empathy, healing and change. 

The events are free and open to all. Details are given in the schedule below.

Steering Group

The Eastern Arc Medical ahd Health Humanities Network is led by a small steering group comprising colleagues from across our member universities.

Steering Group Members
Julie Anderson is Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent. Her research interests cover the history of medicine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. She is particularly interested in the cultural and social history of physical disabilities and blindness. Julie also researches war and medicine, and medical technologies, particularly those for people with disabilities. Julie has worked with a number of partners to promote awareness of the history of disability, including the Royal College of Physicians. She is Chair of the Disability History Group and also co-editor of a series on the history of disability with Manchester University Press.
Stella Bolaki is Reader in American Literature and Medical Humanities at the University of Kent. She has research interests in narratives of illness and disability and critical medical humanities. Her monograph Illness as Many Narratives: Arts, Medicine and Culture (2016) explores contemporary representations of illness across different arts and media. Her recent research on contemporary artistic practice in contexts of health, illness, and disability emphasises collaboration and public engagement. She is currently working on a monograph on how ideas and practices of self-care are interrogated and articulated in contemporary literature and culture, across a wide range of genres and cross-media representations.
Harriet Cooper is Lecturer in Medical Education at the University of East Anglia.For some years, she has been working at the intersection of medical humanities, disability studies and applied qualitative health research.Her medical humanities research has focused on the ‘making’ of disabled subjectivities and on the ways in which cultural anxieties about disability come to be embodied and lived.  Between August 2019 and September 2021 she was an Associate Editor (Book Reviews) for The Polyphony, the medical humanities blog platform hosted by Durham University’s Institute for Medical Humanities.
Nikhil Gokani is Lecturer in Consumer Protection and Public Health Law at the University of Essex. His research explores how we can tackle the risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases (particularly unhealthy diets, excessive alcohol consumption and air pollution) and the associated health inequalities through legal mechanisms. Nikhil’s work brings together public health and national, EU and international law, with a focus on consumer protection, trade and human rights law. Nikhil’s primary expertise is in the regulation of consumer food and alcohol information. Nikhil regularly works with governments, non-governmental organisations and other institutions at national and international levels as part of his advisory and consultancy work (such as WHO and its regional offices, UNICEF, UK Public Health Network).
Tracey Loughran is Professor of History at the University of Essex. Her research interests centre on the interaction of ideas and experiences of body, mind and self, and how knowledge is constructed, translated and transformed across different disciplines and contexts. This thread connects research projects on ‘shell-shock’ in First World War Britain, psychoanalysis in the interwar period, and female bodily experiences, psychological subjectivities and familial relationships in postwar Britain. Her most recent project, an intersectional history of women’s “everyday health” uses oral history interviews to understand women’s embodied experiences and has created a toolkit to improve adolescent emotional wellbeing.

Events and workshops

To find out about all the workshops and other events open to all across Eastern Arc, click on the links below.